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What is Truth?



Pilate asked a vital question to Jesus Christ: “What is truth?” Jesus had told him, “The reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to Me.” This evoked a positive response from Pilate. He was so close to truth and yet let the opportunity slip through his fingers. Before Jesus could answer his question Pilate plunged into business. Jesus was testifying to him, but Pilate wanted to be done with his untimely duty. How sad! If Pilate had but waited for Jesus’ answer...! (Jn 18:37,38). This is what we too do. We pray to God to open our eyes that we may see the wonderful things in the Bible... and then read a Psalm and rush to work. That is why we have not come to the side of truth and that is why we don’t listen to Him like Pilate.

What is Truth?: Long, long ago the Psalmist was able to perceive God’s commandments as truth  (Psa 119:151). The angel spoke to Daniel about the Scripture of Truth (Dan 10:21). When we come to the New Testament we understand that it was Jesus Christ who revealed the truth to us. “The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (Jn 1:17). In fact, Jesus was the truth. He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn 14:6). Whatever He taught was truth (Jn 17:17).

Jesus had long discourses with the Pharisees trying to convince them that He indeed was the truth and that He was teaching them the truth. But they were not ready to accept His words. “You are looking for a way to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God,” said He (Jn 8:40). Paul was in no better position when he tried to save the Galatians from falling into the net of the false teachers. “Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?” he asked them (Gal 4:16). Truth is never popular. Only a few choose to follow the hard way of truth. Let us not capitulate to the pressure from all around to ignore truth and go as the world goes.

Walking in Truth: “Teach me your way, Lord; I will walk in your truth,” prayed David (Psa 86:11). If a man of the Old Testament was keen on walking the path of truth, how much more should we, who are blessed with the Spirit of truth who indwells us! (Jn 14:17). Let us take one small proactive step at a time and move towards truth. Like ripples in a pond, it will spread to our family, then our office, city, country and the entire world. I believe one person can make a difference.

Why is it so hard for us to hold on to truth? Walking in the truth demands openness. It means we stand in an illuminated area where anyone can see what we are doing. It means there is nothing fishy about us, nothing questionable, nothing dark or evil. Bad people do their deeds in darkness, out of sight of people, hidden, like the robbers with masks we see in the CCTV cameras. “Everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God,” said Jesus (Jn 3:20,21). When caught, booked and brought before the TV camera, the wicked turn their faces away or cover their faces with a towel. They had forfeited invaluable honesty for a pittance. Are we ready to walk into the full glare of the limelight to expose our deeds? Will we cheerfully let the world see who we
are – inside and out? “Reputation is what men and women think of us. Character is what God and angels know of us” said Thomas Paine.

We may claim to have repented and proclaim that we know God. But unless we walk by His commandments we are liars and the truth is not in us. Our life must match our words (1Jn 2:4). The devil is a trickster and a sly liar totally opposed to truth. “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (Jn 8:44). That is why we should be extremely careful not to be sidetracked from the truth believing his lie.

Today even those who have stood for the truth with their shoulders straight have been knocked off their perch by false teachers because of whom the way of truth is blasphemed (2 Pet 2:1,2). If we are brazenly dishonest after we have received the knowledge of the truth, we have to face judgment (Heb 10:26).

The Power of truth is awesome. “As He spoke these words, many believed in Him” (Jn 8:30). People, as they were listening to Him got converted! Jesus addressed those who had believed on him saying, “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (vv 31,32). The knowledge of truth dawns gradually. Till then we have to simply, cling to His teachings. Then we start understanding the truth. When we are illumed, we will be liberated from our bondages, sin, false beliefs and teachings, fear, etc., step by step. The Spirit of truth will take us by the hand and guide us into all truth (Jn 16:13).

Freedom Through Truth: This is the freedom Paul talks about in Galatians 2:4. He rambles about how Titus, though a Greek was not compelled to be circumcised to avoid ethnic tensions. Paul’s conviction was: Live and obey and love and believe right where you are and how you are. “Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts” (1 Cor 7:18,19). And he was right. Believers enjoy the freedom in Christ to decide on personal convictions as long as they don’t violate the commands of God.

But some false believers wanted to make Paul and his team slaves to the ‘Don’t touch that, don’t eat that, don’t go there, don’t see that’ religion. It is a religion of man-made commandments with a show of piety (Col 2:21-23). Paul withstood them because he wanted to preserve the purity of the “truth of the gospel” for the coming generations and not let it get adulterated (Gal 2:5).

Paul had no qualms about certain controversial practices. Peter wasn’t clear about the “truth of the gospel” which is justification by faith and not by works like circumcision, i.e. we are saved by faith through grace. He mingled with Gentiles. But when the circumcision group came, he was afraid that they might find fault with him and removed himself from the Gentiles. Paul condemned this lack of straightforwardness about the truth of the gospel with astringency. Thus he settled the issue once and for all that righteousness comes not by law but by grace. The heretical teachers were trying to shut them out of the free grace of God, but truth prevailed! Paul calls the Galatians foolish for not obeying this truth but were subterfuged to obey the law (Gal 3:1). They were convinced about the truth of the gospel taught by Paul and were running in the right track superbly, before the circumcision advocates came and deflected them (Gal 5:7).

Stand for Truth:  Writing to the Ephesians, Paul admonishes them to stand firm, with the belt of truth buckled around their waist (Eph 6:14). If the belt is not buckled properly, fighting in the army is out of question. If we are not clear about this truth of the Gospel, we may fall victim to the devil’s schemes. Paul was very particular that every congregation should be clear about this truth because of its vital importance (Col 1:5).

Paul calls God’s word as the “Word of truth,” which we must learn to interpret correctly. If not we will be put to shame (2 Tim 2:15). Unedifying godless chatter will lead to straying from the truth. Hymenaeus and Philetus were caught up in a yak-yak about resurrection and ended up believing that it was over and done with, confusing the Christians and leading them astray from the truth (2 Tim 2:18). False teachers come to you with an eye on your purse and go to great lengths to please you. Their mouths must be shut up warns Paul, because their motives are rotten. People must be protected from them, for they reject the truth. They talk big to show that they know God but their actions deny Him (Titus 1:10-16) Learn to discern the Spirit of truth from the spirit of deception (1 Jn 4:6).

Especially in these last days we need to keep our eyes wide open lest we fall into any of the deceptive pits. If we love God we must show it by obeying the truth, that is God’s Word (Jn 14:15; 1Jn 5:2,3). This is the acid test of our spirituality. Honest people sparsely dot the world today. If we continue to wallow in our pet sins listed in 2 Timothy, chapter 3, we will immerse ourselves in learning but will never be able to come to the knowledge of the truth (2 Tim 3:7). The last days are on us. People are turning their ears away from the truth and sound doctrine and are falling for spiritual junk (2 Tim 4:3,4). The standard of holiness set by men is coming down every day to the extent now that homosexuality is not sin, abortion is legal... and what not! But God’s standard of holiness is unchanging. It is always, “Be therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect”(Mat 5:48). Be alert! They tweak the Scriptures a wee bit to suit their purpose.

Why Truth?: Why should we worry so much about truth? Is it not enough if we just read the Bible, listen to church sermons and go about our duty? Let’s see four things -

1. The truth, that is the word of God has a sanctifying effect (Jn 17:17; 2 Thess 2:13). When a person sincerely studies the word of God and walks by it, without his knowledge, he is being cleansed. His conscience is sharpened. He learns to hate evil and love righteousness.

2. Make no mistake. If you insist on walking the path of lie, you will face a fiery judgment. And who will be the judge? The truth that Jesus taught us (Psa 96:13; Jn 12:47,48). Let us not deceive ourselves with the leather bound word of God in our hands – with a gold gilt too! If we refuse to love the truth that saves us and delight in wickedness we will be condemned (2 Thess 2:12; Rom 2:8).

3. The protective power of truth cannot be underestimated. “His truth shall be your shield and buckler” (Psa 91:4). A person who walks in the light of the truth is safe.

4. Truth gladdens the heart. The Apostle John was excited to hear that some of the chosen lady’s children were walking in truth (2 Jn 4). He had a dear friend by name Gaius. Believers who met Gaius came back and informed John about him. John was so ecstatic that he sat down to write to Gaius, how his heart jumped when he heard how he was faithful to the truth and how that he continued to walk in the truth. John says that the greatest joy for him was to know that those he led to Christ abide in the truth (3 Jn 3,4). The happiest people on earth are those who walk in truth!

The Sad State of Truth: What has happened to the age old truth taught by God? Isaiah laments, “Justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey” (Isa 59:14).  Thousands of years ago truth was thrown to the dogs and one who called a spade a spade was targeted. “Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips,” mourned Jeremiah (7:8). The fulfilment of  Daniel’s prophecy, who saw in his vision, truth cast to the ground is seen today (Dan 8:12). There is corruption in every imaginable situation and malefactors go scot-free. Perpetrators of violence are out on bail. Unethical practices abound. Christian values and convictions are laughing stock to a godless society. It has become a massive spiritual problem.

We may wonder if people are ignorant about the truth. But Paul’s writing to Romans states that God has made it plain to them. The truth is not hidden from them. But they cover it up by their wickedness (1:18,19). “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator”         (v 25).

What Shall We Do?: Coming to the conclusion: What are we to do about the whole situation when things look so hopeless? Corruption abounds, liars rule us, honesty is laughed at and truthfulness is weird. Can we still walk head high as people of integrity, refusing to bow down to the wickedness that surrounds us? Can we boldly open our mouths to speak about truth and thus attempt to bring about a transformation around us? Or do we duck under the surface because we are the targeted minority? Jesus Himself gave the answer: “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father – the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father – He will testify about Me. And you also must testify, for you have been with Me from the beginning” (Jn 15:26,27).

Almost overnight the disheartened disciples morphed into bold preachers of the truth. Bad times gave them spine, gumption and grit. The situation cannot become any better than this. The clock is ticking for us. If you let yourself slip, laxness will defeat you. The Spirit of truth cannot testify without us. We must let Him flow through us. Unless we listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and act on His behalf, He is paralyzed. Paul had the courage to speak the truth to the Governor Festus (Acts 26:25). Why was he a fanatic for the gospel? Because he had rightly understood the heart of God who wants, not only us but everyone saved, and get to know the truth (1 Tim 2:3). Let us send a powerful message to a country reeling under a spate of dishonest dealings. It may not be a globe-trotting ministry but a quiet one-to-one sharing.

In the Last Days people will not put up with sound doctrine and turn their ears away from the truth. This being so, what do we, the faithful ones do? After warning Timothy about the last days, in the same breath Paul commands him, “But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry” (2 Tim 4:3-5).

About Levi we read, “The law of truth was in his mouth, and injustice was not found on his lips. He walked with Me in peace and equity, and turned many away from iniquity” (Mal 2:6, NKJV). Malachi continues to lament that it is the priests’ job to teach the truth to people, since they would look to them for guidance. But they misled many by their wrong teaching (vv 7,8).

James writes, “My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins” (Js 5:19). The Church of the Living God is known as the “Pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15). Each soul plucked out from Satan’s hands goes to build the Church.

Valiant for the Truth: Let us be valiant for the truth (Jer 9:3, NKJV). “Those who stand for nothing fall for anything,” said Alexander Hamilton, Statesman and one of the Founding Fathers of the US. Let us straighten our backs, face the enemy and stand tall for truth. We are the guardians of our country’s soul. Let us embark on a rigorous fight for truth. If we are determined, the odds are in our favour.

“Your dream is not that which you see while sleeping, it is something that does not let us sleep,” quipped our former and late President Abdul Kalam. Let us dream of the day when truth will be picked up from the street and restored to its rightful place!


   Address for Correspondence & Contributions:

Lilian Stanley
13 Church Colony
Vellore 632006, India
Tel: +91 9843511943
Email: lilianstanley@gmail.com

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